Sunday, May 5, 2013

Whistle, Whistle, Who's Got the Whistle?

Okay... Here's the story:

I was taking my Jeep in to one of the local transmission shops because they offer free transmission diagnostics. My vehicle occasionally feels kind of … well, funny. Pulling up to a stop sign or traffic light and feeling it not shift into first gear until the Jeep has almost come to a complete stop, then downshifting with a bit of a thud.

Well, I thought, better safe than sorry. They can check out my transmission for free and let me know if there’s something horrible going wrong with it. I mean, that’s the kind of thing you’d like to know in advance, right?

Normally on my days off from work I stay at home and write until it’s time to pick Handsome up at school, unless I have errands to run. Those days I write until about noon, giving myself a couple of hours to get other stuff done before I have to be at the school; today was one of those days. I cut off my writing early and started for the garage. I was about half-way there when I heard the Whistle.

Now, I believe I’ve mentioned the Whistle before. Somewhere under the hood of my Jeep, in there with all the wires, hoses and moving parts, there’s something that’s supposed to be maintaining some sort of pressure, but I don’t think it’s quite doing it. There’s a small leak in there somewhere, in a hose, or a coupling, or something I don’t even know the name of, and the escaping air makes a whistle.

Not a fun whistle, either. I mean, if my car was zipping along the road performing the whistling part from Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger”, then Handsome might think it was pretty cool. If it was “Games Without Frontiers” by Peter Gabriel or “Joyride” from Roxette, then I’d think it was cool. Or “Patience” by Guns N’ Roses. Hell, even if it was tooling along to “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” then at least there’d be something fun about it, something I could whistle along with. But all my Jeep does is sustain one long, loud note, both high-pitched and loud. Oh, and loud.

Did I mention that it’s loud? Good.

And there’s stubborn me, driving along and still whistling along with it. I call it stubborn. Handsome has other words for it… none of which I feel like sharing with you at this time.

But I digress…

So there I am, driving to get the transmission checked out in the Whistlemobile. Now, Whistler’s Jeep is embarrassing enough when I use the drive-thru at Wendy’s, the apparently 12-year-old girl working the speaker-box shouting at me “Welcome to Wendy’s can I take your order oh my God what is that noise!?”, and I was trying to imagine what it would feel like to drive into the garage and have every guy there, all of whom probably have perfectly working vehicles, wincing and shaking their heads at me.

Probably not good.

Probably somewhat embarrassing.

I decided to pull over and wait it out.

You see, I think it’s a heat thing, but eventually the Whistle stops. Eventually, after some random time decided in part, I think, but those damn thefty Gremlins (See Post “Interlude II: Hungry Gremlins”), the hose, or connector, or whatever the heck it is, heats up and expands, the expansion causing the leak to swell shut.

Goodbye Whistle: Hello me driving all cool and stuff.

The thing is it’s random. ‘Random’ in this case means that it will whistle for three, five, even ten minutes, but as soon as I pull over to try to locate the whistle, it stops. Also, if I just start it in the driveway for the express purpose of finding the Whistle, it won’t make a sound. The Gremlins must just wet their little pants laughing about that one, let me tell you!

So back to me sitting in the parking lot listening to the Whistle and waiting for it to stop. People drove past me in the parking lot, most of them giving me the long, squint-eyed look that I now immediately translate as “Damn, man, is that you?” Oh, sure, I was embarrassed, sitting there giving the over-sized smile and nod which is the internationally recognized sign for ‘Yup, it’s me, ha-ha, now move along, Buster!’, but what else was I to do? I mean, I couldn’t really do anything until I figured out where the whistle was coming fr…

Okay, my brain is slow sometimes but contrary to the occasional popular opinion it’s not actually stopped. It only took me about five minutes of smiling and nodding to realize this was the perfect time to try to locate the source of the sound that was slowly destroying my car-driving soul.

I got out of the car.

Still Whistling.

I opened the back door to fetch the prop I have to use since the hood no longer stays open on its own (damn Gremlins!).

Still Whistling.

I closed the rear door and realized I had neglected to pop the hood before vacating the front seat.

Still Whistling.

I opened the driver’s side door and leaned in, reaching under the dashboard for the hood release.

Still Whistling.

I popped the hood.

The Whistle died.

Swear words, loud, varied, and creative, were heard echoing across the parking lot’s open air. People drove past offering up their squinty looks but I just shook my fist at them. Well, most of a fist. One of my fingers was occasionally waving in the air; apparently I was so incensed I’d forgotten how to make a proper fist.

My bad.

I slammed the hood down, got back in the Jeep and drove on to the garage. The technician who was performing the diagnostic grabbed a small hand-held computer he was going to attach to the car before driving it around for a bit, then asked me for the keys.
“Here you go,” I said, handing them over. “It’s the blue Grand Cherokee next to your driveway. Oh, and uh, it might whistle. It might not, but it might.”

He offered me a squint-eyed look that said ‘Are you serious?’

I looked at the floor and kept my finger-waving fist in my pocket.

Talk to you later!

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